1. Cooking: Rhubarb is ready! I made rhubarb crisp and rhubarb muffins this week. For the muffins, I replaced all of the sugar and 2/3 of the fat with applesauce. To replace 3/4 c. sugar and 2/3 c. sour cream, I just added 1 1/3 c. of applesauce. This cut down the cost of the recipe by over $0.50, since I made the applesauce from free apples several years ago. I loved the texture of the muffins, but they could have used some real sugar on top, or maybe some honey in the batter. But overall, I thought it was a real success. Rhubarb without sugar! What an idea!
April and May have not been as busy as I thought they would be. Several weeks ago I bought some "convenience meals"—boxed, bagged, frozen and canned stuff. One of you mentioned that the flavor is lacking in a lot of the store-bought meals. Well, you were right. I like how easy it is to take something out of the freezer and put it in the oven and have lunch or dinner ready, but we tried two different lasagnas (cheap brands) and they weren't very good. I also tried some different boxed pasta meals. Those were good, but honestly not better or easier to prepare than what I normally make. Lastly, I tried some canned ravioli. I used to like canned pasta as a kid, but not any more. Hubs was happy with most of the convenience food, but I felt like the quality—and in some cases, the convenience—just wasn't there, for the amount of money you pay.
One change I'm satisfied with is using store bought bread and canned meat. Canned meat (both home-canned and store bought) eliminates the need for thawing and cooking meat, which isn't an option for last-minute meals. Store bought bread isn't healthier and certainly doesn't taste better. However, it's not that much more expensive than homemade bread ($1.00 instead of $0.50). Not only do I avoid flouring up the kitchen every week, but the store-bought stuff is more sturdy for sandwiches and travels better.
Apart from frozen leftovers, sandwiches are the best "convenience" meal I've found so far. I can put almost anything between two slices of bread: random bits of leftover meat, or garden veggies or eggs (which are plentiful this time of year). Canned and frozen meat cost about the same, so no budget increase there, and if we buy two loaves of bread per week it only costs $1.00 more than if we made it at home. Best of all, sandwiches always taste good!
2. Gardening: I harvested lettuce, spinach and a few radishes from the garden this week. I also potted up some self-seeded delphiniums and other plants to take to my sister. For anyone wondering, delphiniums are a great investment. I started about 8 plants from seed. The plants are perennials, so they come back every year. Not only that, but they self-seed and create little plantlets! I wouldn't call them "invasive" at all, but just productive enough to have some to share. They make a beautiful cut flower for arrangements, or just to enjoy in the garden. Lastly, I repotted some houseplants that had outgrown their pots.
3. House: not much is happening with the house project. The concrete company poured the foundation, so all that is finished. Now we are just waiting for concrete to be poured in the garage floor, and we can get to work on framing!
4. Trees: we did plant some trees along one edge of our property. We planted six maple trees and one Kentucky coffee tree (that I sprouted from seed!). The maples were just saplings from other areas of the property. They might survive, they might not—but at least they were free! We put an old tire around each tree to protect it from weed eaters, lawn mowers and pedestrians. We still have a big pile of tires out back to dispose of, but at least some of them are being put to use. In total we planted seven trees.
5. Robot-proofing: I put boards along the bottom of our couch so the robot vacuum doesn't get stuck under there. If I'm not utterly exhausted, I like to pick up and run the vacuum (which is more like a sweeper) at night in the kitchen/living/dining room of our house.
6. Kid stuff: I also moved Princess' mirror up a bit so she can see herself better (I first hung it when she was still crawling). I made family picture magnets with old Christmas cards and unused business card magnets and put them lower on the fridge where she can see them. First I used contact paper to cover the photo, then used a glue stick to attach the photo onto the magnet. I like the idea of business card magnets, but they can't hold up so much as a postcard. I got frustrated trying to keep family photos up, which is why I decided to just glue the magnets and photos together. Each business card magnet made two photo magnets:
7. Alexa hacks: I've started using our Amazon Alexa for grocery lists, reminders and animal sounds. Oh yes, animal sounds. Princess is into animal books right now, so if I don't know what sound a penguin makes, I can ask Alexa. She plays a recording of penguins, and then Princess and I can make the sound together.
I think that's about it for this week!
Til next time,